'Get in the Game' challenges Oklahoma City students to read

May 20, 2018

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Ruby wanted to build a fort. Nothing, not even her brothers' unwillingness to help, was going to dissuade her.

This message of work ethic, determination, resilience, collaboration and a growth mindset came across loud and clear at ReadOKC's “Get in the Game” summer reading challenge launch last week. The goal of reading 20 minutes a day and 1 million minutes over the summer was shared and the challenge accepted.

Brenda Maier, children's book author from the Tulsa area, took part in five assemblies across OKCPS as part of the event, with her book "The Little Red Fort" as the central theme.

The official ReadOKC summer reading challenge launch was held at Johnson Elementary School, which was selected because of their designation as the top reading school in last summer's challenge. Vice Mayor and City Councilwoman Meg Salyer was on hand to read to the students gathered in the gymnasium, as were mascots Brix and Brooklyn from the OKC Dodgers, Spoticus from the Metro Library System and Clifford the Big Red Dog from Scholastic.

Additional assemblies were held at four schools also leading the district for reading minutes logged last summer. They were: Adams Elementary, Rancho Village Elementary, Telstar Elementary and Quail Creek Elementary.

Scholastic and ReadOKC supplied every child in each of these schools with a gift certificate for a book of their choosing for their own home library.

The energy in these assemblies was electric and it was if these kids were being given a million dollars instead of a book gift certificate. Teachers and principals were all grateful as well, reminding all that many of these students do not have their own home libraries and just how significant this gift is to them. (Efforts will definitely be made to raise funds for a book for EVERY student at all 54 elementary schools next year)

Despite the high energy and excitement, the students became quiet as "The Little Red Fort" was being read. They seemed mesmerized by the story of Ruby, as she did what she needed to do to learn how to build a fort on her own. They enthusiastically read aloud the pages saying, “And she did,” which celebrated Ruby's accomplishments throughout the fort-building process.

Ruby's successful completion of the fort, along with her brothers deciding at the end that they in fact did want to play in the fort, albeit late, and decided to help with paint and flowers and a mailbox — this is a story for children and a message for all.

Nothing good comes without a work ethic, determination, resilience and a growth mindset. And things generally turn out so much better when everyone works together and helps with solutions. Oklahoma City Public School students listened and learned.

Our community needs to lead by example and show these kids that we are capable of the same behavior. Our kids will read one million minutes because they are determined, just like Ruby. Work ethic, determination, collaboration, resilience and a growth mindset — these qualities have worked to grow our city, and the same is needed in Oklahoma's approach to public education.

Read Mary Mélon's original NewsOK editorial.